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The Virtue of Lazy Parenting: Ayn Rand Would Say It's Okay to Step Away

We are all about Front Porch Parenting... and part of that is knowing when to step away.

Everyone has his or her own parenting style. Some styles are praised, others styles are criticized, and virtually all styles are both praised and criticized. Primerrily knows we can’t make everyone happy – and we value that fact of life! But we can offer ideas to stimulate and inspire personalized approaches to raising your kids.

With that, let us tell you about what we’ve dubbed “the virtue of lazy parenting.” A nod to philosopher Ayn Rand’s theory, “the virtue of selfishness,” lazy parenting is a thought cut from similar cloth. While the definition of “lazy” is “not willing to work,” the intent of “lazy” in this context is very much a part of a parent’s work. “Lazy” in this instance is an intentional choice to not work, and for many of us, a challenging exercise of our own self restraint. It’s knowing when to be a crutch for your kids and knowing when to show them that they don’t need a crutch after all. Let us explain:

Your kid is bored… is unsatisfied with an activity… is incessantly bickering with a sibling... There’s no shortage of times when you’re called on by your kid to step in. But may we suggest that some of these times might actually be calling on you to step away? At these moments, we love a well-timed and well-toned simple response of “figure it out yourself.” Other ways of saying this are, “I know you can find a way” or “Show me how creative you are! I want to see what you come up with” or “Surprise me. How can you be a leader and not a follower here?”

The driving factor behind this recommendation is not for your own reprieve (although we’ll take it!). Rather, the intent is to help cultivate key character traits and life skills in your kids: independence, imagination, self-reliance, agency, creativity, communication, conflict resolution, fortitude, negotiation, compromise, and cooperation, to name a few.

Not every dissatisfaction is a problem for mommy or daddy to solve. We want our kids, for instance, to understand that it’s okay to be bored sometimes. It is okay to let the mind float, to wonder, to imagine, to take in what’s around them. We also want our kids to understand, for example, that they themselves are empowered to solve their problems. It’s okay to say sorry, to communicate frustration, or to walk away and play elsewhere.

There are so many character-building opportunities given to us each day in the form of “kid-friendly” challenges. We love these as natural ways for our kids to practice and develop the values and virtues we admire. We just have to know when to step away and embrace the “lazy” approach.


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